By The Book: Novels That Should Become Games
January 24, 2010
By The Book: Novels That Should
By Dan Liebman
The range of potential source material encompasses different genres
Once upon a time, there were no video games to be played. The living room did not glow in the television’s light, and the neighbors could not be disturbed by the relentless thrumming of your subwoofer. In these times, people turned to books for entertainment. Quietly nestled in the warmest region of the home, the imagination could take flight into distant lands and exotic adventures, all without the need for a motion-detection controller. Richly laden with sweeping tales of incredible scope, it is surprising that literary works seem rarely consulted as sources of inspiration for video games.
No matter how the experience plays out, games are always more engrossing when built upon the foundation of a strong story. When considering what novels could be well-suited for video-game adaptations, countless examples spring to mind – but for brevity’s sake, here are a few.
Dead Man’s Walk
Like any other form of media, video games are certainly no stranger to the great American western. Few could call themselves true genre lovers if they were unfamiliar with Larry McNurtry’s Lonesome Dove series. Dead Man’s Walk serves as an excellent introduction to the characters, and has no shortage of conflict to provide hours of gaming goodness. The protagonists spend much of the story fighting for their very lives rather than hunting down nameless baddies, and this change of pace could offer a pleasant surprise for folks expecting little more than another “cowboy shooter.” A clever developer might even find a way to successfully integrate the death marches into the game; you never know, they could make it interesting. More importantly, the potential for a co-op Texas Ranger simulation would just sound too great to pass up.
The Big Sleep
As the name suggests, this classic thriller is chock-full of murder most foul. This novel was first introduced in 1939, but don’t let that fool you – it’s riddled with copious violence and unbridled sexuality. Raymond Chandler’s classic work follows the surly Detective Marlowe, who sees a fair bit of action during his investigation of an alleged blackmailing. Although there’s certainly an opportunity for intense firefights, The Big Sleep would probably lend itself very well to the adventure game genre. The content has been clearly crafted for an adult audience, and could provide a nice switch from so many lighthearted, point-and-click adventures.
The Starfist Saga
Science fiction is always brimming with video game potential, and the Starfist Saga brings its own unique flavor to the traditional sci-fi narrative. Written by former servicemen, the Starfist novels are loaded with intrigue and action, making them excellent fodder for a variety of games. The authentic nature of the content greatly enhances the credibility of the characters, and such realism would surely make for an immersive experience. Many gamers are accustomed to the slight sci-fi ring of a futuristic Clancy shooter, so bringing the same tactical approach to a sci-fi setting could attract a massive audience.
The Hunter’s Blades Trilogy
The name R.A. Salvatore is quickly noticed by fans of modern fiction. Among his many noteworthy tales can be found an epic fantasy trilogy known as The Hunter’s Blades. Role-playing games are traditionally a popular format for fantasy-based games, and the epic scope of Salvatore’s world should make for an outstanding RPG setting. The emphasis on strong characterization and powerful drama simply wouldn’t pack the same punch in the form of an action title. The fact that Salvatore’s work is so wildly popular would only serve to increase sales, and his experience with video games would surely make him a valuable asset to the development team.
Given the relatively brief existence of video games, it’s not surprising they are heavily outnumbered by literary works. Drawing upon an outstanding piece of fiction can help raise interest in the game, and may even persuade gamers to pick up a good book once in a while. With such a vast selection for developers to choose from, the possibilities are endless.